Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall…ing down and getting back up again

Well, we’ve enjoyed our three weeks of summer here on the edge of nowhere. It was hot and humid and buggy and barely breathable and I was quite surprised to find that I’m glad it’s over. I used to be a big fan of summer, chomping at the bit to get it started every June, marking off the calendar days each May, eagerly awaiting those first double-digit temperature nights when you could go out without a second layer of clothes on. Somehow, though, I’ve managed to grow up and grow out of being a summer chick and I’ve now crossed over the threshold into the land of Autumn Lovers.

Although I have ulterior motives for wearing long-sleeved tops, I was more than glad to find today’s windy mid-teen temperatures refreshing after the high twenties we had all last week, along with the couple of thirties in the week prior. Since this past year’s struggles had me turning into a mushroom, hiding away from the sunlight like a vampire in order to avoid any slight possibility of bringing on a migraine, I’m almost as white as this screen page and fearful that even the most careful of casual exposure to sunlight will fry my skin to ‘extra-crispy bacon’ level. This leaves me at a distinct place of social awkwardness and insecurity about my lack of healthy pigmentation compared to the rest of the folks in my community when I have to go out of the house on a sweltering day which requires me to be wearing shorts and a short-sleeved top or sleeveless tank. Now that those hell-fire days are over I can look forward to being more comfortable in clothes that cover me up when I go out and about the town.

In anticipation of things changing for the better, I’ve been trying to slowly talk myself into preparing for a return to the workplace, a slow easing back in at a pace I can manage in coordination with my employer and the lovely folks at Head Office and Human Resources. It’s daunting, to say the least, the idea of going back after being away from work for nearly a year and a half. I find myself fluctuating back and forth between looking forward to it, almost giddily, to being panic stricken and terrified. One day I’ll look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘Well girl, you’ve come a long way, you have so many people supporting you, and you have all the help you need to do this. You can do this!’, and I believe it wholeheartedly. I do! Then I’ll spend the day cleaning around the house or cleaning out a closet or a cupboard, or something that means sorting and getting rid of stuff I no longer need. At the end of the day I’ll have a bag or two to go to the thrift shop in the city and I’ll feel good, like I’ve accomplished a great deal of something and that makes me feel even more assured that I’m ready to take that big step in going back to work.

But then the next day I’ll wake up with little aches and pains, usually because I over did it cleaning or whatever the day before, and I’ll drag myself out of the bed and argue with myself for ten minutes about whether or not I feel like getting out of my pajamas. Then I’ll get to the mirror and wash my face and when I look up at my reflection I’ll think, ‘Oh Lord, just look at you. What a mess! You can’t even get out of bed at a decent hour. How do you think you’re going to be able to manage four hours of work?’ And that’s when the self-doubt and the insecurity and the anxiety starts: creeping and slithering around inside my brain until it feels like my head is full of wet sand; coiling around my lungs and squeezing until the pain in my chest makes it hard to take a full deep breath; oozing down into my legs until they feel like they’re lead weights that I struggle to lift just to walk out to the kitchen to make breakfast that I don’t even want to eat. I’ll spend the rest of the day sitting on the couch staring at Pinterest, a hot rice pack on my shoulder, a cold headache pack on my head, a bag of Oreos beside me and a cup of tea on my lapdesk, all the while feeling miserable and defeated, the whispers in my mind calling me ‘idiot’, ‘useless’, ‘stupid’, and so on. Sometimes I’ll cry, if my hubby happens to notice I’ll lie and say I just read something sad, but I know he’s on to me and he just waits until the next time I get up and go into the kitchen to reheat the rice bag or get another cup of tea. Then he’ll pull me into a bear hug for a few minutes until I have a good cry and kiss my forehead and tell me I’ll be alright, and say all the things I need to hear, but I don’t really hear them because I can’t at that point in my crash, so I just nod and thank him, get my tea and go back to the couch.

It really is horrible. The up days are so ‘up’ and the down days are so so so very ‘down’. It’s not even equally balanced. Then there are medium days, like today for instance, that aren’t exactly ‘up’ or ‘down’, they’re just ‘ok’ days where I’m not feeling great, not very enthusiastic about doing anything, not necessarily sad, but I know enough to stay away from reading or watching anything even slightly sentimental or emotional or risk becoming a blubbering mess, and I know enough to stay away from trying to do anything too labor-intensive or risk getting wrapped up in the ‘doing’ of it so much that I’d over do it and end up being sore later or tomorrow. So, with an ‘ok’ day, what do I do to keep from getting myself into trouble? I plan. I have to carefully determine the best things to keep from ruining the day and letting ‘me’ get to me. And today I was good to myself.

I started off by getting out of pajamas – this is very important. Staying in pajamas leads to staying mentally in sleep mode. So, getting out of pajamas forces you to mentally wake up as you have already physically woken up. Next I ate breakfast – real breakfast, cereal and decaf coffee, not just a couple of cookies. Then I decided on the things I wanted to get done today: planting, today I was going to plant things. I love getting my hands in the dirt, working with plants, watching things grow. I’ve had a few things on my mind to do that I’ve been putting off, so today was the day to finally get them done: plant Ginger nodes, re-pot Goldfish plant with Creeping Jenny cuttings, move orange Crocosmia to deck garden. That was my ‘to-do’ for the morning. A short list for the average person, a substantial list for me. It took me just over four hours to complete all that I wanted to plus all the extra things that came up along the way, and when I was finished, with everything cleaned up and put away, I was still a bit sore, but I felt good.  The next two hours of the afternoon was spent laying down with a cold pack on my shoulder, but it was worth the pain for the jobs to be done.

This evening was quiet and relaxing, I managed to find my writing muse again after a few days absence and it felt good to get the little grey cells working again. I’ve started to get my thoughts geared towards NaNoWriMo* once more since November is not far off and this year will be more of a challenge than the previous two since I actually don’t have an outline in mind at all yet. Tomorrow, if I feel more positive, I might call my manager again and discuss work options in more detail. I still feel terribly anxious and uncomfortable about going back, but at the same time I know I need to, not just because of financial reasons but because I realize that I need to return to a social environment and get back into the team atmosphere again. As much as I think I like being alone, it’s really not the most healthy way for me to be spending my days. I’m a people-person and I thrive off interaction with others. My time spent on Twitter and here on this blog has solidified that truth to me even more. I know it now, and I know I will be much better, I will get better faster if I try harder to force myself to take these baby steps and get back into the swing of work soon.

So here I am,  picking myself up off the ground, dusting off the dirt, getting ready for another go. I get up, I try again, I fall down, I get up, I try again. This is the cycle of healing, of growing, of life and living. Last year I fell down, I fell hard and I broke. It’s taken a long time for me to mend strong enough to try and get up again, but now I think I’m ready to try and stand without the crutches. Slowly I’ll take the first few steps and see how well I can manage. I know I don’t have to run right away, no one is expecting me to, no one is asking me to. I know I can take my time and go at the pace that’s comfortable for me. If I fall down it’s alright, there will be people here to help me stand back up, to help me take another step, and help me keep going onward. Summer may be over, but I can still feel the sun on my back as I move ahead… and it feels nice, it’s warm, and it gives me comfort as I go forward into the new season and the next challenge.

*National Novel Writing Month – http://nanowrimo.org/

“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” – Margaret Thatcher

PS.  Eight new poems have been added in the Poetry pages, including “One With the Dark”, which is also posted below.  🙂

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